* Let's begin with the headline item. Despite being publicly predicted across the backpages, the omission of Kevin Pietersen still overshadows every other item in the announcement.
Even when banished from the main stage, Pietersen remains the central protagonist; no wonder, perhaps, that influential members of the England team have been reluctant to let him back into the limelight just yet. His banishment is not thought to be necessarily permanent and the word is that England remain intent on testing Pietersen's commitment at a future stage. In April, when England travel to New Zealand whilst the more glamorous and far more lucrative IPL is underway, both parties will be forced to reveal their hand. But in the immediate term, his punishment is also England's penalty because their hopes of prospering this winter are greatly reduced without their star act - perhaps fatally so.
Pietersen was England's solitary series-saver in the spring-time Sri Lanka tour that followed their humbling against Pakistan and, but for his demolition of South Africa's bowling attack at Headingley, England would probably have succumbed to a 3-0 whitewash last month. Though Pietersen divides opinion - and dressing-rooms - like no other, his omission unquestionably weakens England. The debate will continue to rage about its justifications and whether his banishment ought to be perpetual, but in purely cricketing terms, the reaction is simply one of disappointment. A tour of India amounts to cricket's toughest challenge - the hosts have lost just three of their 38 home series since England last won there in 1985 - and the pure pity is that, in jettisoning Pietersen, England have seemingly jettisoned what little chance they had of ending a year of regression with relief.
* If that sounds like pessimistic exaggeration, close inspection of England's squad provides further cause for concern: An asterisk is affixed to the name of Jonathan Trott on account of his broken hand, Ian Bell is scheduled to miss the second test to attend the birth of his first child, and the inclusion of two possible successors for Andrew Strauss at the top of the order is an indication that neither Joe Root nor Nick Compton has yet made an overwhelming case for selection.
Neither player, for salient starters, has been banging on the door for very long, and the suspicion remains that had Pietersen been available then the selectors would have simply promoted Trott to open and bolstered the middle order with Jonny Bairstow and/or Eoin Morgan. Alas, instead of Cook-Trott-Bell-Pietersen-Bairstow-Morgan-Prior, England look set to line up in Ahmedabad on November 15 with an inexperienced top order and a stodgy middle. Shame.
* With Bell due back in Birmingham on the day the second test begins in Mumbai, both Morgan and Bairstow can feel certain that they will be given their opportunity to impress. Before that, however, the selectors will have to make a choice between Compton and Root (there is still a slender chance that Trott will be promoted, but the Bell complication is a further hindrance to that prospect given the inevitable extra disruption to the middle order).
Root is the romantic choice while Compton is the batsman with the runs on the board: he scored more than any other player eligible for England duty in the County Championship this wet summer and did so at an average of 99. Moreover, he did so in Division One, whereas Root's respectable average of 43.41 was made in the second tier. The youngster has little experience on his side, but he does have an army of admirers in county circles and England have recent history for taking an opening punt - successfully, too, in the cases of Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan, both of whom possessed a modest first-class record prior to their upgrade. The head says Compton but the heart is still likely to prove more persuasive.
* April's victory at Colombo, inspired by a bowling attack containing a solitary front-line spinner, appears to have provoked another sea-change in selectorial thinking. Having departed for the Pakistan tour with five seamers and two spinners, they showed up in Sri Lanka with four spinners - Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar, James Tredwell and Samit Patel. Yet the change in fortunes that coincided with Panesar's omission for a third seamer seems to have persuaded the selectors into another philosophy reversal.
In addition to allaying fears about the extent of Swann's elbow injury, the omission of Tredwell amounts to confirmation that England's game-plan this winter is to play three seamers with Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Graham Onions and Stuart Broad, surely no longer sure of his place following the sudden reduction in his bowling pace this summer, vying for two spots as company for James Anderson.
* The other upshot is that, though Matthew Prior's greater skill with the bat will surely see him promoted to the top six, Samit Patel can expect to be kept busy. Bringing handiness with bat and bowl, Patel has become England's bits-and-pieces man for winter seasons. Expect to see him at seven in the batting and Swann's back-up at five in the bowling order.
* In an otherwise largely predicted 16-man squad, the major shock is on the fringes: the absence of a second wicketkeeper. Craig Keiswetter had been expected to replace regular touree Steven Davies following the latter's axing by Surrey at the end of the county season, but instead neither man figures. Though Bairstow keeps wicket for Yorkshire in short-form cricket, the absence of a full-timer is a surprising risk.
* Ravi Bopara's international career looks to be hanging by a thread. Not only has he been overlooked for a squad missing Pietersen, but he has less cause for grievance than James Taylor. Given that his second Test appearance ended in a run out, the Nottinghamshire batsman can consider himself particularly unlucky.
*Rarely has the chasm and contrast between cricket's two extremes been so apparent: just half of the squad chosen for the tour of India is currently on duty in Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20.